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Forged in Mumbai, shining in Dallas

Updated on: 08 June,2024 08:10 AM IST  |  Mumbai
G Krishnan |

Friends and former Mumbai colleagues heap praise on multi-talented engineer-cricketer, as he leads USA’s upset of Pakistan

Forged in Mumbai, shining in Dallas

USA’s Saurabh Netravalkar after victory over Pakistan on Thursday. Pic/Getty Images

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Forged in Mumbai, shining in Dallas

Saurabh Netravalkar, the Goregaon lad who bowled the Super Over to win the ICC T20 World Cup match for USA against Pakistan on Thursday, is reaping the rewards of his hard work. Talk to those who have played with him in Mumbai and they say in chorus: “Saurabh is a hardworking cricketer and was very good academically.”

Saurabh Netravalkar celebrates USA’s victory over Pakistan in Texas on Thursday. Pic/Getty Images
Saurabh Netravalkar celebrates USA’s victory over Pakistan in Texas on Thursday. Pic/Getty Images

Left-arm spinner Gaurav Jathar, with whom Netravalkar played U-19 cricket for Mumbai and India, could not help recall their U-19 World Cup quarter-final defeat to Pakistan in January 2010. Jathar, who is in constant touch with Netravalkar, told mid-day: “Beating Pakistan on the biggest stage isn’t easy. I messaged Saurabh and Harry [Harmeet Singh]. When we played in the U-19 World Cup and lost to Pakistan in the quarter-finals, I told Saurabh, ‘it [beating Pakistan] was long due. Good to see you and Harry give it back to them’. Saurabh replied, ‘we were thinking about the U-19 days.’”

Also Read: Netravalkar chased wickets and books!

A scholarly person

Jathar, 33, said: “The work Saurabh is doing is part of his dedication to cricket. He is one of the most scholarly people I’ve known. I’ve never heard of the USA playing cricket until he went there and started promoting the game. To manage his cricket after his working hours is itself an achievement, that too on the big stage against Pakistan.”

On Netravalkar’s inclination to academics, Jathar recalled: “He had his CET in a week. We were busy with State and national camps and had no chance to open the books. I said to him to just appear for the exams. To everyone’s shock, he secured 191/200.”

Gaurav Jathar, Onkar Gurav, Aditya Tare and Vinayak Mane
Gaurav Jathar, Onkar Gurav, Aditya Tare and Vinayak Mane

Aditya Tare, a former Mumbai captain who kept wickets in the lone Ranji Trophy that Netravalkar played, against Karnataka in 2013-14, said: “Saurabh’s bowling was accurate, he was very particular in how he prepared. He knew his limitations and because he was smart, he managed to succeed. Netravalkar uses his angles going around the wicket brilliantly as he doesn’t get the ball in.”

‘Destiny and hard work’

Another of Netravalkar’s teammates in Mumbai, gloveman Onkar Gurav, attributed the bowler’s success to “destiny and hard work.” Currently the fielding coach of Mumbai Ranji Trophy team, Gurav, 35, said: “Good to see the Mumbai attitude in the USA. When I played with him, he was very studious, very disciplined and bowled long spells. He was deceptive in his line and length, and knew how to make it difficult for batsmen. On the ground, he gave more than 100 per cent and off it, he was immersed in his books. I’m very happy to see both the guys from Mumbai doing well for USA. It is a proud moment for a Mumbaikar.”

Former Mumbai captain and opener Vinayak Mane captained Netravalkar at Bharat Petroleum. “Along with Suryakumar Yadav and Jathar, Saurabh was taken on scholarship, but missed out on employment due to medical reasons. I was very happy to have his commitment to the game when he played for BPCL. He was hard-working, disciplined and committed. He had his tough times, but never gave up. I am very happy for him. Someone we recruited as a youngster is now winning a match against Pakistan.”

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